Death, known as The Grim Reaper, The Hooded One, The Destroyer and The Angel of Death, is an iconic figure and a key element across cultures around the globe and is imagined in many different ways, and often depicted in grim reaper tattoos. The traditional and popular depiction of death in skeletal form, in a dark cloak and carrying a scythe first arose in 15th century England, while the title Grim Reaper was first used in 1847.
In certain mythologies the grim reaper was the cause of a victim’s death when he came calling to collect them, while in other beliefs the reaper is simply a guide to the afterlife, having no control of how the victim dies. Lets take a look at this death list of cool grim reaper tattoos and you can make up your own mind about how this shadowy character operates and impacts our lives. Enjoy!
37. Death List Grim Reaper Tattoo
With a list of souls that it’s time to take, wrapped around and around figure and scythe, this grim reaper tattoo is smooth and cool with good shading, and an excellent bright yellow and red backdrop suggesting the reaper is coming from hell to take those on his list into the afterlife. This is a bold piece with great airbrushed looking accents and presents a mysterious reaper with shadowed face and yellow eyes glowing from under the hood. Great work.
36. Grim Reaper Tattoos as Caricatures
A brightly colored, bold and humorous grim reaper tattoo standing out on pale skin in intrepid color from the purple robe to the yellow teeth, and even the bold green checker board pattern in the background. This cartoon caricature of death incarnate has extremely smooth line work and excellent shading on the skull, robe and scythe making it really pop against flesh, and is a brilliant lighthearted version of darkness come to collect souls to embark on their journey to the beyond.
35. Lost Souls Grim Reaper Tattoo
Some grim reaper tattoos are made up of souls in the form of twisted faces that make up the cloak and body of the reaper, as well as faces and partial skeletons acting as a gorgeous, blue, macabre background for this warrior of death. The concept of this particular tattoo is an awesome, bold and haunting representation of the grim reaper who, in some mythologies, actually causes the death of those it come for, and perhaps all the souls in this piece represent those who have tried to hold onto life by avoiding Death’s visit, or those who have tried to bribe or bargain with death. Fantastic piece.
34. Flashy Grim Reaper Arm Tattoo
This traditional style tattoo depicting the grim reaper is bold and beautiful featuring death cloaked in black with perfect bright highlighting and great saturated red accents on the inner lining of the robe and the eye sockets of the skull. This grim reaper tattoo is lined with perfection and shaded impeccably bringing it out of flesh canvas clearly and in flashy style. Overall a great piece signifying that death is coming for us all one day, a notion that nobody can escape and that death is a part of life, and this art work will be with wearer until they too meet the reaper.
33. Tribal Grim Reaper Tattoo
32. Glowing Red Reaper Tattoo
A cool reaper tattoo in bold black and blood red with great shadowing and lovely highlights across the top of the cloak and on to the impressively long scythe. This depiction of death means business with scythe in mid swing and a humanoid face rather than the traditional skull and bones, which gives a creepy, menacing feel to the whole piece, added to by the glowing red color injection that compliments this deathly figure perfectly. A valiant tattoo that screams death is coming and stands out on skin in intrepid perspective. Nice work.
31. Grim Reaper Hand Tattoo
This is a cool, abstract grim reaper tattoo, well placed on the hand with excellent line work and great use of ink and skin to carefully make up hooded figure with scythe in tow on the back of the hand. This is a really nice composition with reaper looking down, skull and hood in a bow, and cape well shaded at the top with folds lined perfectly in the right places, and gradually getting darker as it trails off onto the fingers. As it’s on the hand this tattoo will break up over time, but nevertheless it’s a great piece representing death in fine form.
30. A Portrait of Death
Traditional in style and with a look that reads tarot card, this grim reaper tattoo stands out in bold perspective, the colors bright and wild from the fiery red background to the spring greens morphing into black and the delicate pink flowers in the foreground, it is one crystal clear piece inked smoothly and with care. Death stands in a frame like a painted portrait surrounded by the life he will one day come to take. Beautiful.
29. Grim Reaper Shoulder Tattoo
A very clean, crisp grim reaper tattoo on the shoulder done with pure black ink making it a very bold piece, well placed, and against pale flesh , the mix of black to skin tone gives it a very ghostly appearance, a perfect way to display the angel of death. Precision line work really brings this reaper tattoo to life and great shading enhances this vision of death incarnate from that scary place; the unknown world, rising out of skin canvas in a dazzling display of creepy reaper art.
28. Grim Reaper Drenched in Black
27. Bio-Mechanical Grim Reaper Tattoo
This is an interesting depiction of the reaper with his cape breaking up and trailing off into the shadows, his shoulder a mix of bone and skulls, and his arm a bio mechanical web of wire, mesh and tentacles curving and morphing into the handle of his scythe. I really like the composition of this piece, and with excellent lining and fine detail work on the arm and skull, death is brought to life in a crazy dreams-cape ready to take souls and keep the balance between dark and light forevermore on pale flesh canvas.
26. Unique, Highly Detailed Grim Reaper Tattoo
Highly detailed and with ultra fine line work, this grim reaper tattoo is well placed on the chest and embodies death in unique style with great features and shading on the skull, a seriously rippled cape to the point to where it looks like webbing, and a totally gnarly scythe made up of what appears to be a mix of metal and bone, its design adding a one of a kind feel to the piece. This grim reaper tattoo also includes a delicately lined hourglass, it’s chain wrapped around the handle of the scythe, reminding us that time is death and life is slowly ticking away for us all. Overall, a great work of art and a very stylized and a different reaper tattoo that beckons for attention and will withstand the sands of time until death seeks out the wearer to take that final journey. Terrific.
25. The Reaper Tree
This is a fanciful depiction of death, and while it’s not exactly a grim reaper tattoo it does capture the essence of foreboding with a clear sense of doom and darkness. This is a great representation of light and dark, life and death, with twisted tree symbolic of life and the skull within it’s branches suggestive of life growing and turning into death, death the ultimate end of life, and the balance in between with neither one being able to exist without the other. This tattoo is nicely done with fine shading work on the trunk of the tree, and great highlighting around the knot holes. The tree’s upper branches feature a web of ultra fine lines making up the tree’s offshoots and brilliantly weaving together a skull within. A beautiful piece capturing the fine line between this life and the next.
24. Cloaked in Death
Slashing it’s way into spot 24, is this rather majestic reaper come from beyond, gathering the fallen to add to the growing mass of tortured souls forever trailing behind him. This winged demon of death is beautifully well lined, and the delicate shading of cloaked figure is well executed as it fades off into flesh around the base. Subtle, jagged detailing on the wings create an authentic skeletal feel and appearance, perhaps suggesting that all flesh has withered and fallen away leaving only a cage where wings used to be. A great grim reaper design concept and a nicely inked piece capturing the essence of death and a torturous afterlife that awaits.
23. Grim Reaper Chess Board
‘Life is like a game of chess, changing with every move’. In this rib cage tattoo the grim reaper lingers over the board waiting and moving to take the fallen into the afterlife. Much like life, chess is a game of patience, skill and knowledge, each player trying to outwit and outmaneuver their opponent until the King, like life is taken away. This is a great, metaphoric, grim reaper tattoo with precise line work and excellent shading, and while the highlighting could be a little more outstanding, overall this reaper tattoo captures death at his best; watching over life and waiting silently to strike when the wrong move is made.
22. Death is Certain…
21. Window to the Grim Reaper Tattoo
A very cool reaper tattoo, well placed on the shoulder, although simplistic in design tells a deep, dark tale of death waiting from within to snatch the nearest dying soul. Lining and shading in this work is beautifully done and creates a jagged, cracked outline of a window in which the grim reaper sits without a face, showing only the black darkness within and suggesting that death is blackness, absent of identity, a creepy hooded figure awaiting one’s demise. Intense black color saturation coupled with perfect highlighting in all the right places makes this a stand out tattoo that will take the wearer into the beyond.
20. Gorgeous Grim Reaper Skin Art
A traditional in style and neon grim reaper tattoo that is both fun and macabre, is placed neatly on the forearm and stands out in bold, colorful and intricate perspective. Surrounded by vivid green, yellow and red flames, this reaper clutches scythe with bony hand, skull and spine in glowing skeletal form stand out against the well injected jet black cape and hood, and a black and white patterned halo with golden yellows and orange swirling within, sits atop the crown of this ghostly, unearthly being come to guide the lost and the dead on to the next life. A truly beautiful tattoo with marvelous highlighting, that will stand with pride as a reminder that this is not the dress rehearsal.
19. Ghostly Grim Reaper Tattoo
Fabulous, delicate shading defines this grim reaper tattoo which appears almost ghostly and comes clad in chains, skulls and the iron cross. This classy depiction of death has the reaper cradling an hourglass in hand with the sands of time running out, suggesting that life too is draining away and this grim demon of the afterlife is ready to collect souls of the dead. Impeccable highlighting on this piece really brings the grim reaper to life, creating a beautiful tattoo that stands out against pale flesh and proudly reminds us and the wearer that time is limited and death will come for us all. One of our favourite grim reaper tattoos on this list.
18. Grim Reaper Ritual
An elegant and super macabre grim reaper back tattoo that is a statement piece taking up over half of the wearer’s back and offering up a unique take on this dealer of death and angel of the afterlife. In this eye catching work, the grim reaper sits cross legged, wings spread, playing the flute which, upon closer inspection we can see, is made of bone, a nice touch on an already brilliant design. This grim reaper also wears a key around neck, subtly inked and almost disappearing into the folds of the cloak, and perched across folded legs sits a bowl containing what appears to be a heart in scarlet red hue, the only color in the entire tattoo making it stand out boldly, suggestive of the reaper weighing the value of the soul, or perhaps a ritual death performs on the hearts of the dead. Awesome.
17. Stylish Grim Reaper Tattoo
16. Death and the Star of Life
I love the concept and composition of this cool grim reaper back tattoo. Featuring a well highlighted Star of Life, a medical symbol, often seen on ambulances and the likes, with the Rod of Asclepius in the center which is a snake entwined rod wielded by the Greek God, Asclepius who was associated with medicine and healing. This is an interesting version of the symbol as etched on the rod are the symbols for biohazard, radioactive, flammable and toxic suggesting several potential causes of death. Convenient then, that the grim reaper hovers above, scythe and cloak framing the Star of Life, as he, the bringer of death waits for those who fall in any one of these horrifying disasters. Great work. One of the most dangerous grim reaper tattoos.
15. The Grim Reaper Rides Tattoo
14. Carpe Diem Grim Reaper Tattoos
“Carpe Diem”, Latin for ‘Seize the day’, is branded across the top of this awesome grim reaper tattoo suggesting that one must strive to live everyday to the fullest, grabbing the bull by the horns whenever opportunity presents, as death is ever creeping closer to put an end to all days. In this beautifully shaded, well placed piece, the grim reaper, under moonlit skies, points a bony finger at the beholder as an unearthly warning that our time is running out, a notion that is further enforced by the subtle hourglass counting away time in the folds of death’s robe. A bold, beautiful reaper tattoo that will serve as a gorgeous show piece and a haunting reminder that time is precious and not a shred must be wasted before this angel of death comes calling.
13. Blood Moon Grim Reaper Tattoo
One of the darkest grim reaper tattoos in the collection.
12. Gambling Grim Reaper Tattoo
Life is a gamble and death the only certainty, a fact that is beautifully illustrated in this fine grim reaper tattoo that features death incarnate in three dimensional, skeletal form holding a pair of dice which he appears ready to roll, breath swirling up in hand for a touch of good luck. Lining work, coloring and shading on this piece are all fantastic, making for a stand out tattoo, that will be a definite conversation starter, to be proud of for both the wearer and the artist.
11. Grim Reaper Half Sleeve
10. Awesome Grim Reaper Back Tattoo
Creeping in at number 10 is this explosive back tattoo featuring the grim reaper beneath peeling skin, scratching and slicing his way out of the wearer with bloodied scythe in one hand, slashing it’s way down to the bottom of the spine, and scarlet red claws protruding from the other hand, reaching out and ready to sink into the souls of the dead. Lining on this work is done perfectly and the intrepid black background really makes the reaper stand out, an effect only enhanced by incredible shading and intricate detailing. I love this monstrous grim reaper with it’s rows of razor sharp teeth, ever ready to take a big bite out of life.
9. Surreal Grim Reaper and Time Tattoo
A somewhat abstract, somewhat surreal grim reaper, full back tattoo with morphed, twisted shapes and faces of fallen souls wrapped up in and around the folds of death’s flowing cape, the reaper himself without a face and surrounded by father time, symbolized in the large clock filling the background. The grim reaper seems to have control over this timepiece via his scythe which is anchored into the clock, perhaps moved by deathly hands and spun like a wheel- death at the helm of a ghostly ship bound forever to shadowy realms. Whatever the case, death and time will always be closely associated, as with death comes the stopping of time, time changes and death is simply time running out. Beautiful work and a unique and interesting concept, well executed and turned into artistic vision on flesh canvas forevermore. One of the most intense grim reaper tattoos we have on the list!
8. Lighting Up The Reaper
This is an extremely cool vision of the grim reaper in a tattoo that is some seriously brilliant skin art lighting up a beautifully dark scene of death on pale living flesh. Well placed on the shoulder and inked with gorgeous, bold midnight blues and an array of purple haze in the cloudy mist that surrounds the reaper, this grim reaper tattoos stands out most for the magical use of yellows, white and impeccable highlighting that light up skull face with a mesmerizing hourglass lamp. Grim reaper peers into time as if into a crystal ball divining who will die next. As far as grim reaper tattoos go, this one is a source of pride for the artist, and a badge of honor for the wearer.
7. Grim Reaper Tattoos and Moonlit Graveyard Tattoo
6. Reaper in Prayer Tattoo
5. The Grim Reaper Welcomes You
In this well inked, full back tattoo we see the grim reaper watching over a baron wasteland, perhaps ravaged by war or disaster, or maybe the path to the beyond, death awaiting us with a rose in mouth, scythe in hand, welcoming souls old and young into a land beyond time and life. A well executed tattoo with beautiful shadowing, shading and highlighting in just the right places, all making for a really cool grim reaper work of art that will be worn proudly into the afterlife on flesh canvas.
4. Grim Reaper with Hourglass Leg Tattoo
3. Unique Reaper Chest Tattoo
A unique, rather crazed looking grim reaper is featured in this intricate and bold chest tattoo that begins on the upper arm and splashes its way across the breast in whirlwind fashion, lighting up pale skin in a blaze of twisted black lines and wicked highlights. Death has an intense look in his spiraling eyes and his intricately detailed cloak, which is shredded around skull, creates the look of flowing fabric that gives the appearance of motion to the art, and coupled with a highly detailed, decorative scythe with twisted branches making up the handle, this is a stellar grim reaper brand that will keep death in the fast lane and serve as a reminder to get the most out of life before death catches up.
2. The Ferryman of Death
A beautiful, ultra realistic tattoo that depicts grim reaper as ferryman for the dead, indicated with style as death tosses a handful of coins engraved with skulls towards the beholder. According to legend, in Greek mythology, Charon served as the ferryman for Hades and carried the souls of the newly deceased across the rivers that separated the land of the living from the land of the dead. Superstition was such that a coin to pay Charon for passage was placed in the mouths of the dead, and it was believed that failure to pay the ferryman resulted in one’s soul having to wander the shores for a hundred years. This tattoo is inked with precision and perfection with awesome, bold lining and shading work and intense color saturation making the reaper stand out in the shadows. Brilliant. Lots of grim reaper tattoos wish they looked like this!
1. Spectacular Grim Reaper and Child Tattoo
An epic grim reaper masterpiece in super realistic style and a vivid depiction of innocence completely oblivious to the darkness that surrounds, with a young child delicately shaded and with beautiful highlighting cradled in death’s lap as the reaper holds the open alphabet book for unconcerned baby to view. There are many meanings that could be attached to this gorgeous tattoo, perhaps the grim reaper is caring for a young soul who passed too soon, or maybe death looks over this child in life, waiting in the shadows, reminding us that nobody is immune to dying. Whatever way you interpret this piece, it is a fantastic tattoo that is an instant eye draw and will beg to be discussed throughout life and who knows, maybe into the beyond too!
All in all, grim reaper tattoos take many forms, and are not always that sinister, despite initial impressions. We would love you to share the stories behind your own grim reaper tattoos with us. Have you seen any grim reaper tattoos that inspire you?